Gallery: Talking Public Space and Urban Intervention With San Francisco...

 

INHABITAT: Rebar touts itself as a design studio “operating at the intersection of art, design and ecology.” What role does environmental sustainability play in your designs?

MATT: We’re looking at playful ways to provoke a conversation around public space -- particularly how the current set of conditions is not a sustainable use of space in the city. When you look at how much urban space is used exclusively or predominantly by the automobile, you are looking at a planning strategy that is outdated, outmoded, and does not adequately express contemporary values. Rebar worked with community residents to transform this vacant lot into the Growing Home Community Garden.

INHABITAT: How did Rebar get its start?

MATT: Rebar started around a project called the Cabinet National Library. We were inspired by an art magazine in Brooklyn called Cabinet, which had bought a piece of land in New Mexico on eBay and invited cultural events and installations to occur on the land. I actually to them  a “National Library,” which would be a file cabinet in an earthen berm that would house all the back issues of their magazine. They thought that was great and hilarious. At the time, one of my friends, John Bela, was in graduate school studying landscape architecture, and we started talking about this project. We eventually developed a plan, and we built it in 2004. Following that very fruitful collaboration, we decided to create an organization, call ourselves Rebar, and pursue more projects. The second project was “PARK(ing),” which evolved into Park(ing) Day. Once that project blew up, there were so many opportunities, and so much interest in our work, that we really needed to form an organization and develop ourselves creatively.

INHABITAT: What can you tell me about the inspiration behind Park(ing) Day, and how is Rebar staying involved as the project grows?

MATT: We first did [PARK(ing) Day] on Mission Street, here in San Francisco. It started with occupying one parking space for two hours, which was the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter.

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